BCCK’s tireless efforts advancing business events in Sarawak
By Jude Toyat
As the first and only international purpose-built convention centre in Sarawak, the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) plays a leading role in advancing business events in the state.
According to its chief executive officer Eric van Piggelen, BCCK expects to cap off the year with more than 200 events.
“This number has been consistently maintained since 2014 with steady growth in revenues.
“Association meetings take longer lead time of average three to four years to materialise, hence the ripple effect from hosting the annual ICCA Congress will only be perceptible in the medium term or long term in the future,” he said in a recent interview.
The recently concluded 55th ICCA Congress held at BCCK was a joint effort by BCCK, Sarawak Convention Bureau (SCB) and the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) alongside several other relevant bodies and organisations.
It aims to put the state in the world map of business events across the globe, leading the path of greater heights of world business event.
More than 800 delegates from over 90 countries had participated in several networking events of the 55th ICCA that showcased the best of Malaysian culture, including a gastronomical affair at Kuching Waterfront, a mini rendition of the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) at the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV), and a gala that honours traditional cultures from around the world.
As a global community and knowledge hub for the international association meetings industry, the ICCA as a global expert in international association meetings represents the main specialists in organising, transporting and accommodating international meetings and events and comprises over 1,000-member companies and organisations in over 90 countries worldwide.
On trend of business events here in the state, Eric opined that it is never easy to get business “especially if you are selling a second-tier city, long haul destination.
“However, Sarawak has such a unique offering that it becomes exciting to sell the destination. Sarawak is where business meets adventure.”
Eric emphasised that the scope of business events is wide and varied and encompasses all types of events including food and social events.
“Hosting is our core, as a means to provide specialised venue, expertise and services to event organisers. Food and beverage service is an integral part of business events.
“Our centre organises a host of food events – which in essence combine the business and social elements – catering to the business and social needs of corporate and public sectors including private individuals,” said Eric, adding that the biggest food events that was organised in BCCK are the annual BCCK’s Ramadhan Buffets which in 2016 saw a patronage of more than 20, 000 diners and it was their biggest number to date.
Other major festive food events were also hosted either at The Raintree Restaurant (housed on BCCK premises) or in the centre.
In providing supports to events held at BCCK, Eric said that they have a dedicated event planning team to see all the minute details of planning an event with the support from the audio-visual, ICT, culinary production, banqueting or setup, and food and beverage service teams.
“All these are specialised services provided to our clients. Each and every event has its own specific requirements from the tangible to the intangible aspects such as safety and health considerations.
“Hence, our services are very much tailored to the needs of every individual event,” he
As to encourage more MICE or business events to be held at BCCK, Eric said that the centre has a very robust plan in place to futher leverage the ICCA Congress.
“We are focusing on new markets such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, India, Thailand, China, New Zealand and Australia to name a few.
“It is safe to say that Sarawak is on the world map and equally important that we can offer world class events with globally recognised high level of service. Our Sarawak style itself is unique selling point,” he said.
BCCK achievement over the years include being awarded the Conference Venue of the Year at the 2016 MICE Asia Pacific Awards in Singapore on Sept 21 this year, a recognition for playing a defining role in the events and travel industry in the Asia Pacific region.
Meanwhile, in 2015, BCCK was awarded the Malaysia Business Events Awards of Excellence – Purpose Built Convention & Exhibition Centre Award for Excellence category (below 15,000 square metres gross saleable space) at the rAWr (Recognising Award Winning Results) Awards 2015.
Also in 2015 and 2016, luxury lifestyle magazine Malaysia Tatler ranked the Centre’s Raintree Restaurant, as one of the best in the country.
On their future plans, Eric said that there are plans for new multi-purpose hall which would offer countless possibilities for events of all kinds to be staged in Kuching, a myriad of events that have never been witnessed here like major sports events, concerts and exhibitions.
“This is what we envisage to achieve in terms of elevating Sarawak’s position in the business events industry.
“There are other developments being mooted alongside this new facility to complement our core business. All these are in nascent stages at this point of time,” he added.